Sunday, April 29, 2007

Repost Sunday: The Staff Meeting – Tips For Survival and Success

I rerun some of my older posts on Sundays as a way to highlight stories that you may have missed. Just think of it as 'thought recycling' and a day off, or that I am incredibly, incredibly lazy.

And I needed the refresher...big staff meeting on Thursday!

Anyone in an office setting has had to endure a staff meeting, some weekly, some monthly or some quarterly. I recently sat in on a monthly one and thought it might be good to review ways to get out of a staff meeting with your dignity (not to mention employment) intact. Like all things in life, some parts of the meeting interested me and some did not. It’s not how we conduct ourselves in the meeting during the moments that interest us that make us good office folk; it’s what we do when bored out of our skulls that really showcase our character.

I’m sure everyone has doodled during a staff meeting. Heck, if Ronald Reagan could doodle while President, I’m sure it’s ok for the rest of us! If you are going to doodle, getting into the habit of nodding every 45 seconds or so helps you to be perceived as interested in what is happening. The same exercise can be used when daydreaming. No matter what is happening, when the rest of your colleagues laugh, do the same. Just make sure that you gauge the enthusiasm of everyone else’s laughter prior to committing to yours. Don’t respond to your colleagues’ chuckles with a hearty ho-ho. I did this once, it wasn’t Christmas and it was a dead giveaway that I was about thirteen miles from where everyone else was in the room.

You should always size up the physical aspects of the room you will be conferring in. Doing so allows you to avoid the one spot in every conference room where no one wants to sit - the chair directly facing the sun. When you aren’t totally paying attention, the worst thing to do is sit there squirming and constantly adjusting how you are sitting because all of the sun’s power is being concentrated directly and solely into your eyes. Speaking of eyes, I did learn one good technique to convey interest even though you have no idea what is going on. If you require glasses to see, simply take them off. Then when you look at whoever is conducting the meeting, you appear to be making direct eye contact with them even though you can barely distinguish their face from the wall clock behind them. I’ll give you credit though since they both have faces.

Some long meetings have beverages or snacks provided, but if the meeting is of a lesser duration, it can pose some challenges. Even when there are snacks, it can be awkward because you don’t want to appear to be a pig and reach across everyone several times to partake in the provided provisions. I have personally found that bringing a PEZ dispenser or tin of mints into the meeting serves many purposes. It lets people see that you are the kind and sharing type and it provides a tiny snack in its own container that can be passed around easily and cleanly rather than having everyone touch the food. A PEZ dispenser can hold 12 pieces of candy and most mint containers hold at least 25, so plan ahead based on the number of attendees that are expected in the meeting.

If you eat during the meeting, chances are you will drink during the meeting, if you haven’t already. Caffeine in the bladder is a ticking dirty bomb waiting to go off. If the necessity to lessen the amount of liquid waste in your system arises, go! Granted, I am not a doctor, but I have seen one on TV. I recommend strongly against holding it, as squirming is not an attractive quality. Just make sure that when you excuse yourself from the meeting you let someone know where you are going so no one mistakes your exit for you wanting to go check your voicemail or stocks and sports scores online. That all being said, there is one scenario where you should hold it at all costs. Now I am no career counselor, although I have seen one on TV, but if your boss is the one individual between you and the door, just stay put.

Also, be respectful of your superiors and colleagues and silence your cell phone. It can be hard to remember sometimes, but try to make it a habit of checking that your phone is on vibrate. You don’t want to turn it off though because then you’ll miss important text messages from friends. When you have annoying or revealing ring tones like ‘The James Bond Theme’ or Johnny Paycheck’s ‘Take This Job and Shove It’ (just to randomly snatch two out of thin air), you really want to make sure your phone is off. Lastly (and perhaps most importantly), no matter how tempting it may seem, don’t draft your next blog post under the guise of ‘taking meeting notes.’ That rule should be self-explanatory – you can’t fully focus on your blog post.

Well, there you have it - a few tips to help you get through your next staff meeting. In case my boss or anyone from work is reading, all of these scenarios and tips are fictional, completely fictional. While I’m sure they have happened to someone, they have not happened to me.

Now, back to the meeting…diversification, uh-huh, uh-huh…market share, yep, I agree…2007 goals, uh-hmmmmm…

17 comments:

Patti said...

Since I am working from home I don't have the fun of staff meetings. You almost make them sound fun, with all the doodling time, and sharing of Pez and mints.

Michael C said...

Patti: they are almost fun. At least our boss takes us someplace nice to eat after the meeting.

Patti said...

BTW, PEZ candies are manufactured in my hometown. Does that make me famous?

Michael C said...

Patti: I know what city that is actually and yes, it makes you famous to me ;-)

Patti said...

wow - I'm impressed, since you live on the other coast.:-O

Odat said...

LOL..We too have some pretty boring meetings...we pass notes to each other talking about other people....and yet still acting like the professional they hired me to be...ahahahaha.
Peace

My heart runneth over... said...

I recently had a coughing spasm meeting and thought I would be sacked straight away! Not, not not attractive!

Must remember to always have something on hand mint or water to feign off nervous coughing fit from sick and cruel boss!

I hate meeting... lots of talking nothing really if ever getting down!

M

Michael C said...

Patti: Yeah, I only play stupid to keep people from asking too much of me ;-)

Plus, I collect PEZ, too.

Odat: You would so fit in at one of our meetings!!!

My Heart Runneth Over: I read somewhere that studies have proven that less actually gets accomplished in meetings than if everyone worked by themselves. I wanted to point that out to my management, but thought better of it.

Patti said...

Why am I not surprised that you collect PEZ dispensers?

Michael C said...

Patti: Why have so many people said that exact same thing to me?
;-)

Patti said...

You inspire me. Soon I shall write about another one of my very own, personal special collections.

Erica AP said...

I'm glad you have taught me the ways of the staff meeting because I was trying to climb the latter but kept falling... Now I know why. :)

ShadowFalcon said...

You rigth staff meetings are evil and where you sit makes all the difference in the world - I try and avoid the coughing women, an hour sitting nex to her and I'm near suicide

CS said...

These are all better ideas than what I used to do - which was constantly look for opportunities to make jokes or otherwise create a diversion.

James Burnett said...

I just sit at the back of the room and read cnn.com on my phone during staff meetings. Helps the time pass and keeps me from feeling like I've been cut off from the entire planet by the incessant droning of someone who earns more than me but probably shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

I collect greating cards - that should count for something :D
I LOVE PEZ, btw!

Oh - also, word to the wise, never leave your cell phone that's on vibrate on the table during a staff meeting - it isn't fun... :D

Lis said...

I've the attention span of a cockroach so I always make sure I bring enough sweets to feed an entire army when I've to attend a meeting. Prevents me from nodding off instead of nodding intelligently at appropriate intervals. Thanks to the sweets, I'm also usually the most popular person during meetings.

The glasses trick doesn't work for me though. I've perfect eyesight. :D